With the coal stock not expected to last beyond two days at hundreds of thermal power generation plants, India is apparently going back to the lantern ages. The acute power crisis coupled with no immediate solution in sight has left the government at their wit's end.
On 1 September, a hundred thermal power plants monitored by Central Electricity Authority had coal supplies enough to last only six days. So, another two days and most parts of India could face major blackouts, Money Control reported.
The government, which was busy blaming UPA government for the shortage, has been trying to meet the demands in vain ever since the power plants started to notify the Centre about fuel shortage.
"There are issues, but we are looking into the matter. To bridge the shortfall and avoid shortages, we had to step up thermal generation to make up for the loss of hydro-power generation. This has also led to a higher demand for coal," power minister Piyush Goyal said.
"Coal has been supplied as per schedule to all plants. Owing to the delayed monsoon, hydel power was not produced to the extent it should have been. To make up for that, coal-based production of electricity was increased by nearly 20% in June and July," Goyal added.
However, a Coal India Limited (CIL) official has reportedly said that India, at present, would not be able to fulfill the demands and deal with the shortages as the government is yet to plan on importing coal to deal with the power crisis.
"There is no solution against low stocks in these plants, as they will get domestic coal only to the extent of 65% of the total requirement, according to the fuel supply agreements. Plants are running at 100% PLF, against the normative 85%; also, they haven't arranged for imported coal," the CIL official said.
Several states including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Delhi NCR have already started facing partial blackouts.
Poor monsoon this year has shifted the burden to thermal power stations across the country, thus increasing the demand for the raw material by 29%, said one of the owners of a private power producer, Ashok Khurana.
"Companies did not anticipate this extra demand. Orders for imported coal were based on last year's demand," Hindustan Times quoted Khurana.
National Thermal Power Corporation Limited, India's main power generation company has been burdened with over 80% of power generation which is 18% higher than last year. The state power ministers are likely to meet the Union power minister in Delhi on 9 September for a solution to the crisis.